Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 17: PMSS Publications (Published by the School)

Dear Friend Letters 1924

CONTENTS: Dear Friend Letters 1924, April 1, 1924, Pages 1-2

Dear Friend Letters 1924 consists of one 2-page letter that includes the following subjects: Letter of appreciation from student Chadwick Holcomb ; background information on Holcomb ; hardships and influence of workers at the two extension centers ; modern industries on other side of mountain compared to poverty of the county on School’s side ; need to change prejudice and hostility toward newcomers through friendly daily contact ; statistics demonstrating Kentucky’s problems ; amounts of money needed to run School ; signed by Ethel de Long Zande ;

GALLERY: Dear Friend Letters 1924

TRANSCRIPTION: Dear Friend Letters 1924

Page 1 [dear_friends_1924_04_001.jpg]

Miss Katherine Pettit
Mrs. Ethel de Long Zande

C. N. Manning
Security Trust Co.


April 1, 1924.

My dear Friend:

A letter has just come from one of our students, a declaration of dividends to assure you of the soundness of your investment. The boy who wrote it, a nineteen-year-old lad, of an amazing personal distinction, enters Antioch next year. He has set for himself a lifetime of work in the mountains but he knows he will need full hands and a stout heart before he can do much for them. Here is his letter:-

Roan Branch, Kentucky

Dear Mrs. Zande:

Since my last visit home I have realized more than ever what Pine Mountain School means to me. I shall never be satisfied till I see more and better schools for the mountain boys and girls. The conditions in our home neighborhood are terrible. yesterday, after spending the day visiting my friends, seeing the “young uns” so ragged and dirty, after seeing my best chum smoking cigarettes and drinking whiskey, and hearing profane words and indecent language he used, I went to bed very sad indeed. I didn’t sleep before midnight.

I pictured again our little schoolhouse where I used to eat my cold lunch with Clarissa, Corliss, and Cinda, on the roots of some hemlock. In the last few years for lack of teachers no one has had a chance to go to school for more than two or three months. Some reckless boy had amused himself by throwing rocks and breaking window panes. When I looked into the building yesterday, I saw a depressing sight. The rocks and glass were all over the floor. The cattle and hogs had pushed the door open and added their destructive work to the havoc of the place.

Then I thought of my father and mother and kinfolks, as a labor-stricken and benighted people, seeing that much in their environment was wrong, but because of their ignorance unable to better conditions. But most of all, I thought of the poorly clothed, under-nourished children, growing up to be no better off than their parents unless something was done. My greatest desire is that the Pine Mountain School will mean as much to a few other boys and girls as it has to me. May they see the need and feel the responsibility, because it is in the few that are able and willing to act that our hope lies. To the Pine Mountain School I owe what I am and what I hope to be. With thanks beyond expression for what you have done for my brother and sisters and myself, I am
Sincerely yours,
Chadwick Holcomb

It would surprise you, if you knew his home, that such fine reserve, such sure good manners, such alert intelligence could flower in so shut-away and so poverty-stricken a place. He lives in a lonesome little clearing at the foot of a heavily wooded mountain, far from neighbors, roads, school, church. Life is very sombre (sic) there, for the only returns from the family’s best efforts are a meagre (sic) bodily living. Chadwick came to Pine Mountain three years ago and was like a hungry person who had found food. He wanted some of the other children to get here too, so four of them are in school this winter, while the father works heroically, to get on without their help.

As you think of the influence of Pine Mountain on its hundred and more students, do not forget that it also has two extension centers in neigh-…

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…borhoods several miles away, through which we reach hundreds of people who never come to the school. We could tell you spectacular stories of the doctor and nurses who live
there, — how they ford full streams, crawl over footlogs in the dark to reach patients, take care of gunshot wounds and obstetrical cases under almost impossible conditions, but it is
the quiet influence of their lives that we want you to think of. William James once wrote to a friend; “I am with the invisible molecular forces that work from individual to individual,
stealing in through the crannies of the world like so many soft rootlets, or the capillary oozing of water, and yet rending the hardest monument of man’s pride if you can give them time.”

The coming on the other side of Pine Mountain of such industrial enterprises as the International Harvester Company, the United States Steel Company, and many others, among so isolated and ignorant a people, has had its dangers. On one side of us this spectacular industrial development, on the other, a county without a railroad, a buggy, or a graduate physician! Neighborhoods that ten years ago “never seed a stranger” have become suspicious of the “fotched-ons”; it needs the friendly daily contact of our extension workers, in sickness, and at merry-makings, in Sunday Schools and on the playground, — “invisible molecular forces,” — to modify prejudice and hostility.

Pioneer problems, many of ours, an enormous burden to Kentucky! Kentucky, without a common school system until 1908; in illiteracy only fifth from the bottom among her sister states; in educational conditions forty-fifth from the top. The school term for half her children is only 113 days; the average teacher’s salary $364.00 a year. 30,000 Kentucky men registered for the draft in 1917 by mark. The state death rate from typhoid is nearly twice the average for the United States; it has the second highest death rate from tuberculosis; infant mortality is increasing; 33,000 people are threatened with blindness from trachoma.

Everywhere in Kentucky public spirited people are at work to raise the tone of her civilization by better laws and institutions. More power to their hands! It is for us to work through the crannies. $25.00 runs two extension centers for a day. $150.00 provides a scholarship for a year. $2,500.00 will start a new extension center. $5.00, — you can take your choice of things to do with that! History and literature classes, weaving, furniture making, the Model Home, garden work, spend it where you will, its use is golden. You cannot tell what far-reaching results will come of it.

We need generous checks (we are behind on this year’s expenses $7,500), and we also want the interest of many givers who cannot give largely. Send us all you can today.

Sincerely yours,
[signed] Ethel de Long Zande